Bamboo is categorized as an NTFP that has a high cultural and social value for the everyday living of Lao people in rural areas. There are about 150 bamboo species in Lao PDR. The production for commercial purposes can generate extra household income for the locals, while protecting the environment via conservation of wild bamboo forests.
The bamboo handicraft and furniture value chain in Nam Ha includes stages of collecting, processing, trading, export, and retailing. Collection is done by villagers who select and cut the bamboos from the forest and carry them to the road where local traders process it by cutting, stripping, and oven drying. Local companies purchase the bamboo for sharpening and conditioning in bags, and transporting it to the local markets where the bamboo products are exported to provincial or local shops. The final retailer is often located in Thai or Chinese markets.
The development of this value chain could bring the opportunity to generate income for about 600 persons. Also, it will reduce slash and burn agriculture practices, and avoid disturbance of wildlife at Nam Ha National Protected Area.
The main focus of the BBP project in Lao PDR is to promote value chain upgrading by developing and implementing standards, building quality assurance practices, and creating verification systems and mechanisms. Community-based solutions such as organized training on bamboo forest and forest management, awareness-raising for the long-term benefits of protecting bamboo forests, and community capacity building for bamboo product design and commercialization will be implemented.